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Beholding Bee

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Overview

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that ...

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Beholding Bee

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Overview

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won't enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world--if only she will let herself be a part of it.

This tender novel beautifully captures the pain of isolation, the healing power of community, and the strength of the human spirit.  

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Bee is sensitive about the prominent diamond-shaped birthmark on her face, which she hides with her hair. Ever since her parents’ death, Bee been raised at a traveling carnival, working the hot dog stand with a young woman named Pauline (between chopping onions and cruel comments from fairgoers about her face, Bee spends much of the book’s early chapters sobbing). When Bee’s future with Pauline is jeopardized, Bee runs away (“I do not have much of a plan except we need a home that will take a girl with a diamond on her face, a funny-looking dog... and a baby pig”). Two strange women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in, and Bee’s life improves dramatically, but her “aunts” barely eat, and no one else can see them. Fusco (The Wonder of Charlie Anne) has a strong handle on her WWII-era setting, and she delicately describes the stress of being viewed as different. But while Bee has suffered mightily, the magic- and coincidence-driven events of the second half result in an ending that’s too good to be true. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
It is June, 1942 and Bee is chopping onions for the hot dogs that Pauline sells from her hot dog cart, part of the circus attractions. Bee does not remember her parents, who died when she was young, but relies on the memories Pauline has of them. Pauline is her protector when adults and children taunt her for the large birthmark on her face. Ellis, the circus manager, is not a very kind man, does not like children or dogs, and yells a lot when things do not go his way. When he sends Pauline and Arthur out to a neighboring town to set up a more permanent exhibition, he refuses to let Bee go with her. Now, it is Bee's responsibility to sell the hot dogs and honeybuns to the circus goers and to try to keep her new canine companion, Peabody, out of Ellis's sight. Finally, one night after Ellis has discovered the dog, she prepares to make her exit. She has already lost her parents, her friend Pauline, her mentor Bobby, and even her favorite pig. She will not lose Peabody. Taking only what she feels belongs to her, Bee sets out to find a new home for herself and her animal friends. After a day of foot travel, the troupe stops to rest and eat near an apple orchard. Bee is awakened by her mysterious orange hat lady. Pauline was never able to look quickly enough to see her, but the lady always appeared when Bee needed comfort or encouragement. Now she is here, offering Bee shelter for her and her friends. The mysterious Orange Hat Lady will prove to be the best friend Bee has ever had. This is a delightful story from author Fusco, with a touch of magic and mystery that will appeal to the middle school reader. It is the story of a young girl who perseveres in spite of obstacles that are placed in her way. Themes of loyalty, stereotypes, and multigenerational relationships are interspersed among the historical elements of carnivals and the atmosphere of war. Reviewer: Joyce Rice
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—In this blend of magical realism and historical fiction set in 1942 New England, 11-year-old orphan Bee travels with a carnival, assisting her guardian at the hot-dog stand and shielding the diamond-shaped birthmark on her face from stares and taunts. She longs for a real home to share with Pauline, who taught her to read and keeps a notebook about Bee's childhood. When Pauline and her new boyfriend are sent away by the sinister carnival owner to establish another show, Bee runs away with runt pig Cordelia and stray dog Peabody. She comes upon an inviting old house and is welcomed by two elderly women only she can see: Mrs. Potter, whom Bee has "glimpsed" before when in need of comfort, and Mrs. Swift, a prickly suffragette. Settling in, Bee starts school, is placed in a class for the disabled, makes a friend in leg-brace-wearing Ruth Ellen and an enemy in bully Francine, discovers startling secrets about her own family, and gradually develops self-sufficiency even as her old "aunts" begin to fade. While many of the motifs are derivative and the plot is predictable, the elements come together in a satisfying story, narrated in the unique voice of a spunky and endearing heroine. The writing is often lyrical, chapters are short, and details of the time period add interest and texture. Fans of Kate DiCamillo, Jennifer Holm, and Polly Horvath will find this an enjoyable and engrossing read.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Ever since her parents died, young Bee has had two protectors: Pauline, who runs the hot dog cart with her in Ellis' traveling show, and the old lady in the flappy hat, invisible to all but Bee. In a distinct, heartfelt voice, Bee explains how both provide comfort when superstitious, often mean, townsfolk stare at the diamond-shaped birthmark on her face. When Ellis threatens to put her in a "look-see booth" to boost wartime ticket sales, then forces Pauline and Bee apart, Bee runs away and finds herself on the old lady Mrs. Potter's doorstep. The setup is slow-moving and feels more coincidental than supernaturally driven, but the scenes of Bee adjusting to life with not one but two ghosts (a Mrs. Swift occupies the house, too) offer humor and inspiration. The spirited ladies are determined to make sure Bee is standing firmly on her own two feet before they disappear. A disabled schoolmate and her family help to ground Bee, too. Bee works hard, forges friendships and learns her family history. In a turn of events, she also rescues Pauline. If the parts are a bit disjointed and the ending pat, readers will still feel the magic when Bee finally holds her head high and lets her diamond shine. Not quite a flawless gem, but there are plenty of moments that sparkle. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385361279
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 5.87 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

KIMBERLY NEWTON FUSCO is the author of The Wonder of Charlie Anne and Tending to Grace, both of which received multiple starred reviews.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    This is a very special kind of ghost story for anyone who has ever felt the need to hide.

    When Bee runs away from the carnival where shes lived her whole life,she meets 2 mysterious old woman. They gently push Bee out of hiding to face both the scary things and the beautiful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Young Bee is an orphan.  When her parents are killed while worki

    Young Bee is an orphan.  When her parents are killed while working for a carnival she is allowed to stay on with Pauline.  Pauline raises her until their boss sends Pauline away. Then her friend Bobby, who runs the pig races goes off to work in a factory.  Bee has always felt alone, but never as alone as she does now.  She is born with a birthmark that covers one side of her face. This subjects her to taunts and teasing.  Now her protectors are gone.  Bee decides it is time to leave the carnival and find a permanent place to stay.  She and a dog she had found set off until they find the perfect gingerbread looking house.  There she finds Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter.  Mrs. Potter has been visiting her since her parents died.  The problem is no one else can see her or Mrs. Swift.  Through their love and lessons Bee must learn to stand on her own and become the person she was born to be.  You must read this book.  I was sucked in emotionally form the beginning.  You want to pity Bee, but at the same time you want to scream at her to stand up to those who bully her.  It is a story that takes place during the time when America is at war with Japan.  Families are separated and people are bullied for all kinds of things.  Being different brought out the bully in people you wouldn't expect to be bullies.  There are lessons for everyone to learn.  Kids will love this book because they will be able to relate to the different types of bullying.  They will learn because they will be able to sympathize with the victims.  This is a book that not only kids but adults will enjoy.  If I could make it a rule every school would read this book at the beginning of the year.  In many ways it reminded me of the book Wonder.  If you liked that book you will LOVE this one. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Beholding bee

    i didn't read the book ( sorry ) but i checked it out and itsounds suberb. anyway, has anybody ever read the fablehaven its really really good. TRY IT SERIOUSLY YOULL LOVE IT. sorry but anyway beholding bee is supposed to be awesome more later when ive read it

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Heartwarming! Best book I've read in ages!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    A wonderful and endearing story! My daughter and I read this book together for her library book talk and we enjoyed it immensely wishing it would never end. An empowering period story that should be read by all young girls!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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